PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Some big changes could be coming to Downtown Panama City. On Wednesday, Panama City commissioners approved an agreement they believe will boost tourism in the city.
Improvements to the marina have been in the work's for months, and now another new marina project could be on the horizon.
"The biggest things that are happening in North Florida from Pensacola to probably Jacksonville with this type of development and residential development is happening right here in Panama City," said Commissioner John Kady.
Commissioners unanimously approved an exclusive agreement with California-based Sonnenblick Holdings at a specially called meeting.
If the plans move forward there's a lot of exciting possibilities on the table for the marina including new hotels, hundreds of parking spots, new housing, a garage, and even a row of waterfront restaurants and shops.
"Whatever's best to help revitalize," said Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki. "We know that we need retail. We know that we need, you know, retail. We'd like to see retail downtown as far as on the marina, and a hotel, and more people living downtown."
Over the next few months, Sonnenblick will develop a plan to overhaul the downtown Panama City Marina area. The agreement outlines several tentative ideas for development, such as thousands of square feet dedicated to retail and office space.
"We might be coming to you for two different hotels not just one and we are of the opinion that the more hotel rooms, the more tourism is generated for the downtown and will make the project that much bigger," said Robert Sonnenblick, Chairman of Sonnenblick Holdings.
Mayor Brudnicki says if the company meets its deadlines, the city could break ground within a year. Commissioners say they're excited to work with a team with such a high level of expertise.
"I call it an all star team of guys that have experience. They've done this before in other markets and there's no substitute for experience," said Commissioner Billy Rader
Mayor Brudnicki says the city would have to do some things to prepare, like increase water and sewer capacity, but he says they'll make sure they meet those goals.